There mav be a furtlicr reason, however, \h- the works ofrnMarx and Engels, Hitler and Rosenberg, are seldom read, a reasonrnthat has nothing to do with their tedium. I mean thatrnthere is a suspicion that they might say something inconvenientrnto the easv assumptions of our times. One such assumption,rnin the Western world, is that the right is competentrnand the left irtuous, and it is only very recenth’ that it hasrncome to be doubted—due, no doubt, to events like the sterlingrncrisis of September 1992 or President Bush’s handling of thernAmerican economy, on the one hand, and the proven corruptionrnof socialist parties in France, Italy, and Spain on the other.rnThe assumption made for a long incuriosity, even amongrnhistorians and political theorists. For so long as socialism wasrnthought of as virtuous, genocide could not be socialist. Afterrnall, genocide is wicked. Everyone, or nearly everone, knowsrnthat. It followed that though Hitler called himself a socialist,rnhe cannot have been one.rnIt may be hard now to set the historical record straightrnw ithout offense—an offense based, often enough, on simplernmisunderstandings. The first is that to speak of socialist genocidernis to imply that all or most socialists have believed in it,rnwhich I am far from suggesting. A second misunderstanding,rnand more interesting, concerns the nature of virtue. Socialismrnhas always been a claim to virtue, much as conseratism hasrntraditionally been a claim to competence. But racial theories,rnit ma be alarming to recall, can be claims to irtue too.rnPurity is an ideal, after all, and idealism can be brutal. In arnworld content to accept that socialism was always thought ofrnas left-wing, that is a mood hard to recapture. “Racism” hasrnlong been a term of abuse; and the charge of genocide, as inrnBosnia, is nowada s known only as a term of reprobation. Butrnthe world has not always been like that. The terms “racist” andrn”racialist” are both 20th-centur coinages, unknown to the languagernin the 19th century and eariier; and their exclusive associationrnwith racial oppression, which is now taken for granted,rnis even more recent. Enlightened and progressie thinkersrnlike Shaw and Wells were proud of their racial theories, and ad-rnocated them publicK as socialists. A year after Hitler tookrnpower, II.G. Vells, in Experiment in Autobiography (1934),rncandidly remarked that his Anticipations belonged to “thernHitlerite stage of my development, when I was a sentimentalist,rna moralist, a patriot, a racist.” So racism, in his view,rncould be moral and sentimental, and Hitler could be seen as arnsentimental moralist. Shaw, in the preface to On the Rocksrn(1933), applauded the new regime in Germam’ for havingrnput extermination at the head of its program, though onrnseerelv practical grounds he disagreed with the Nazi emphasisrnon Jews and preferred the Soviet emphasis on the unfit andrnthe lazy. These were conscientious left-wing views based, as itrnw as thought, on scientific evidence, and Shaw and Wells werernno more ashamed of their belief in extermination than Hitlerrnhimself. In fact, they were eager to be seen as courageousrnenough to grasp a problem that the liberal mind, in an excessrnof delicacy, had long pretended was not there.rnRacism, in a word, was once a part of advanced radicalrnthought, and nice people could be publicly racist. That hasrnbeen true for a long time. The most amiable of 19th-eenturyrnsocialist revolutionaries, Alexander Herzen, who wrote hisrnmemoirs in exile in London in 1852-67, remarked that it wasrnhigh time the world came to realize how important race was.rn”The time has come to understand, once and for all, that therndifferent breeds of mankind, like different breeds of animals.rnhave their different natures and are not to be blamed for this.rnNo one is angry with the bull for not having the beauty of thernhorse or the swiftness of the stag,” and the most we can hope,rnFlerzen concluded, is that the different races of mankindrnshould “graze peaceabh- in the same field without kicking orrngoring each other.” That is a racist view, though one well shortrnof genocide: an instance of virtuous racism in a virtuous man,rnand Herzen was not to know where it would some da}’ lead orrnwhat others would do with it.rnPerhaps, then, the classics of totalitarianism are protected byrnmore than their tedium. They are protected by the fear thatrnto read them might be to uncover something subversive: evidencernirreconcilable with assumptions seldom doubted andrnclaims long considered too cogent to need defense. The goodrndictator—good, that is, in his own self-image and the estimationrnof his disciples—has ceased to be part of the moralrnuniverse in which we live, and Rosenberg’s hopes, and Hitler’s,rnof a Nazi-Soviet Empire united in racial purity mean nothingrnnow to mankind. That is not to be regretted. The world hasrngrown skeptical of the power of the wise ruler and the singlernidea, of doctrines like the purity of race. We doubt the idealismrneven of idealists. No doubt that is right. But it makes thernpast we have so narrowly survived difficult, even impossible, atrntimes, to comprehend. crnEnough Guilt to Go Aroundrnby John Nixon, Jr.rnThat, as alleged, she done him wrong is true—rnAnd he reciprocated and in spades.rnThough it was universally agreedrnTwo huge wrongs don’t add up to one small right.rnThen, in the post-Edenic period.rnFor the first time, we done them wrong. Did theyrnEnthusiastically retaliate!rnThey must have been stockpiling stones for days.rnAnd some bright bastard had devised a clubrnAnd cracked our skulls with that. The weapons racernHad definitely started. Dipping quillsrnIn gore, we wrote the ugly story downrnAnd called it history. From it, we learn:rnEverybody done e’erybody wrong.rnFEBRUARY 1995/17rnrnrn